Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
USA, 2014. Broad Green Pictures, Hyde Park Entertainment, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Noruz Films. Story by Ramin Bahrani, Bahareh Azimi, Screenplay by Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi. Cinematography by Bobby Bukowski. Produced by Ashok Amritraj, Ramin Bahrani, Andrew Garfield, Justin Nappi, Kevin Turen. Music by Antony Partos, Matteo Zingales. Production Design by Alex DiGerlando. Costume Design by Meghan Kasperlik. Film Editing by Ramin Bahrani.
Andrew Garfield is superb as a Florida construction worker who has done his best to keep his family afloat but is in a losing game; legal measures to avoid losing his house have resulted in the bank foreclosing and a real estate agent (Michael Shannon) showing up to take over the property. Now living in a motel with his young son and mother (a fantastic Laura Dern), Garfield is desperate to make some cash and finds an opportunity, quite strangely, working as part of Shannon’s eviction crew.
His new boss is a savvy business man who has turned the economic crisis that has seen thousands of Americans lose their homes into opportunity for himself and recognizes the skills, intelligence and ambition of his new young charge, bringing him into his shady dealings and handing him plenty of cash to join his work. Garfield, morally ambivalent about the job, only sees the opportunity to get his house back but eventually is in danger of being seduced by the chance to join an elite crowd he has never known before, until things come to a head with a particular case that forces him to evaluate moral versus material needs.
Exceptional direction and astoundingly good performances, with Shannon ruling supreme as the devilish cad who is repulsive and irresistible at the same time, are combined with a perfectly airtight script that manages to bring home the realities of the economic crash in a film that plays out like a war movie. Everyone is stuck between caring about the world and saving their own hide, and director Ramin Bahrani is outstanding in not letting it boil down to a smug, easy conclusion. Filmmaking of the first order.
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Michael Shannon)
Screen Actors Guild Award Nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Michael Shannon)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2014
Venice Film Festival: In Competition